The Mets sent a MLB-record 16 players to participate in the WBC these past three weeks.
While the tournament is over, it will be interesting to see what, if any, short-or-long-term effects show with the players involved, especially considering the core players of the team played such active roles in representing their respective countries.
In 2006, when the Mets sent several players to the first WBC, they ended up one base hit away from the World Series.
Now, after two consecutive disappointing Septembers and a brand-new Citi Field right around the corner, the Mets are now anxious to show that they are the "team to beat" in the NL East, knocking the Phillies down from their perch.
Both of our new bullpen relievers, K-Rod and JJ Putz were participants in the WBC and did contribute to their team's efforts, so I am sure that the Mets will be anxious to benefit from their experience once the regular season begins.
Leadership has been a major issue for the Mets, and the team presently boasts no official captain, as Jerry Manuel does not want the responsibility to fall on one person's shoulders. Also, much has been said about perceived tension in the clubhouse in regards to the mix of nationalities in a Latino-dominated clubhouse.
David Wright is the spokesman and unofficial captain, but Wright considers himself to be one of many leaders on the team, which is what Jerry Manuel wants, a "network of leaders". He is the "grit and dirty uniform" example on the team, his leadership is by example, every day he is out there no matter if he is injured or just plain exhausted.
During the tournament, Wright was very close, both on the field and off, to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. As the clear-cut captain of the crosstown Yanks and World Series champ, Jeter is an ideal mentor for Wright. They both already have "class act" reputations and have a great deal of respect for one another and the way each approaches both their game and their off field endeavors.
Wright's contribution was significant to Team USA's success, but he was also injured. Though the injury was not serious, it will be a concern to see how his leadership skills will evolve along with his physical abilities possibly being challenged early will develop throughout the 2009 season.
Jose Reyes played for the Dominican Republic, which was unexpectedly eliminated in the first round by a surprising Netherlands team. Reyes, no doubt, was extremely disappointed by the early elimination and should be determined to show that he is ready to take a more active role with the Mets.
Jerry Manuel wants Reyes to be open minded to hitting in other spots besides lead off, though the idea has been meant with a great deal of resistance by the speedy shortstop—not a good sign of Reyes' "team first" attitude. Reyes will also be asked to be an infielder general, positioning the other players, something that he has not shown an interest in during prior seasons.
Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado both played for Puerto Rico, along with Nelson Figueroa and Pedro Feliciano. The Puerto Rican natives also expected a prolonged WBC, but USA, with a great deal of help from David Wright, stopped that from happening.
Beltran and Delgado are both incredible players who have had outstanding careers, but both have a lot to prove to many fans in New York. Beltran goes about his business quietly and is very misunderstood so fans have not really warmed up to him, and Delgado, while he had an incredible second half in 2008, needs to show that it was not a fluke. Both played very well in the WBC so fans will expect more of the same during the season.
Now that Jerry Manuel has his team intact, the season can start, but it will be exciting to watch how these players make the adjustment from WBC play to MLB team play.